University applications are seeing an almost two-fold increase in plagiarism cases. According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), 7,300 personal statements were flagged for plagiarism last year, up from 3,559 two years ago.
Of these cases, international students comprised one in five applications to British universities but accounted for three in five instances of plagiarism. Countries of origin for plagiarised content, following the UK, included India, Nigeria, Romania, and China.
While there was a 15% rise in plagiarism since the introduction of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence program, experts like Wayne Holmes from University College London (UCL) believe the surge is unlikely due to this AI. Holmes stated, “If you use ChatGPT, its main characteristic is that it’s all different. You write the same prompt twice and you get different outputs.” He speculates that the increased similarity issue and decrease in original contributions is more likely due to the pressures students face, leading them to explore shortcuts and various sources available online for guidance and phrasing.
Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Greenwich, and Birmingham City University, reported the highest numbers of flagged applicants, while Oxford, Cambridge, and St Andrews had among the lowest numbers, according to data obtained by The Times. In Scotland, there was similarly a staggering 150% increase in plagiarised submissions over two years, with Glasgow Caledonian University notably experiencing a surge in flagged applications.
Sander Kristel, the chief executive of UCAS, emphasised the individualised nature of the statement, stating that applicants must advocate for themselves in their own words, highlighting their ambitions, skills, and experiences relevant to the course they’re applying for. ChatGPT cannot supplement an individual’s life story and experiences.